As the Rio Olympics comes to an end today, Nigeria’s participation has been, to put it mildly, dramatic.
All summed and considered, the Nigerian delegation to Rio was able to win a meagre (bronze) medal, that many Nigerians have taken to calling “golden bronze” considering the twists and turns that brought us here.
We present to you the most 25 dramatic moments for Nigeria before and during the Olympics.
1. Half a medal is better than kalo-kalo
Nigeria was only able to win one medal during the Olympics. The medal which was a bronze medal was achieved by the men’s football team on Saturday.
2. Aruna Quadri makes history
Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri made history as the first African tennis player to reach the quarter final when he beat German Timo Boll in the fourth round in 6 sets 12-10 12-10, 12-5, 3-11, 5-11, 11-9.
3. Segun Toriola is the Olympics
Segun Toriola, another table tennis player made his seventh appearance at the Olympics game becoming Africa’s most featured Olympian.
Toriola, 41, represented Nigeria for the first time in Barcelona ’92 and has since attended Atlanta ’96, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.
4. Funke Oshinaike takes 6
It seems like the Olympics in Rio was one where our tennis players decided to break records.
Assistant captain of Team Nigeria to the tournament, Funke Oshinaike joined the likes of Mozambique’s Maria Mutola and Angola’s João Baptista N’Tyamba to feature in six Olympics becoming the third fourth African, second Nigerian and first Nigerian female athlete to achieve this feat.
5. Chierika Ukogu goes against all odds
EKG made history for Nigeria on many fronts. She became Nigeria’s first ever athlete in the rowing event in the Olympics.
She represented Nigeria in Rio at her own expense, as she funded herself to the games. In her first attempt she qualified for the D Final of the Women’s single sculls finishing in second place in a time of 7:44.76.
Even though she did not win any medal, Chierika won a lot of hearts in Nigeria for her accomplishments.
6. How Nigeria made an appearance
Many would have been expecting Nigeria to have dressed in our traditional attire at the opening ceremony of the Olympics ceremony like the team has done in past events.
Well, Nigeria surprises The official outfits did not arrive ahead of the openong ceremony so the team had to settle for tracksuits. It’s the stuff of comic strips.
7. Better late than never?
Fine, we did not use the kits at the opening ceremony. But we decided to further embarrass ourselves as a nation by allowing the kits get into Rio just three days to the end of the tournament.
They call it Nigerian time.
8. Bravo, Echo, Delta!
Nigeria’s Under-23 men’s footbal team was on the verge of missing out on the opening game due to challenges with the flight.
The team which was stranded in Atlanta, USA where saved by Delta Airlines who flew them straight to Manaus just in time to make the game.
9. The beret of shame
Nigeria has had incompetent ministers, and still has many. But, Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung is at the top of the pile.
The red-beret wearing minister was a huge disgrace during the games. His conduct and at times utterances were nothing to write home about.
He was in charge of the sham of a ministry that brought absolute disgrace to a country of over 170 million people.
At one time he called Nigeria, the United States of Nigeria.
10. Ticket to nowhere
We cannot forget of course the first shot that signaled trouble – when the Sports Ministry and its colleagues at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria sent out mails and text messages asking athletes to sponsor their way to Rio.
It went downhill from there.
11. The fundraiser
Due to the directive by the Sports ministry that they fund themselves to Rio, athletes went online to solicit for funds. Many of the athletes opened a “Gofund Me” account as they asked friends and concerned Nigerians to help them achieve their Olympics dream.
12. Union Bank donates N30 million to Team Nigeria
So despite the many bad things that happened prior and during the game, Team Nigeria still had some reasons to smile as one of Nigeria’s banks Union bank donated a whooping some of N30 million.
A smart move by the bank, and just-in-time for Nigeria.
13. ‘Yeye dey smell’
The Sports Ministry and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) were involved in an exchange of words as both parties disagreed as to why the football team was stranded in Atlanta.
The Sports Ministry said the report was a ‘hoax’ and an attempt by the NFF to “milk” Nigeria. An accusation the Federation said was untrue. Both of them, useless.
14. So long, from Dalung
Sports Minister Solomon Dalung in his attempt to cut down expenses sent home two players of the Dream Team from their camp.
Dalung didn’t stop there, he also sent home three officials. #Winning.
15. A Japanese miracle!
A Japanese doctor Katsuya Takusa handed cheques worth $390000 to the Dream Team and it’s Coach.
Takusa, who watched the third place match live had promised the sum, and made good his promise as he gave the sum of $190000 and $200000 to team captain Mikel Obi and coach Samson Siasia respectively.
16. Oduduru, the Divine
It was a dramatic moment for Nigeria’s sprinter Divine Oduduru in the 200m heat when he came a close second to world’s fastest man Usain Bolt.
Divine didn’t waste the opportunity, hugging and taking pictures with Bolt. Because, Warri boy.
17. The 23-seconds man.
Nigerian boxer Francis Ajagba wasted no time in knocking out his opponent, Nigel Paul of Trinidad and Tobago.
In 23 seconds the bout was done and dusted, as Paul fell to the grounds and the referee called it a day.
18. The Fantastic Four
Nigeria’s women 4 by 100m team qualified for the final of the athletics event. The quartet of Blessing Okagbare, Agnes Osazuwa, Gloria Asumnu and Jennifer Madu made it to the final
19. First come, first serve
Nigeria’s men basketball team D’Tigers won their first ever game in the Olympics when they outclassed Croatia 90-76.
The Nigerian team was totally superior in the game and had a good tournament even though it was able to secure just a victory.
20. Superstar loading
Antwon Hicks, a first time Olympian who represented Nigeria in the 110m hurdles qualified for the semi finals at the first time of asking.
21. Amusan for the win
Oluwatobiloba Amusan qualified for the final of the 110m hurdles. She won her with a time of 12.99 secs finishing ahead of U.S. Alexis Duncan who posted a time of 13.02 secs and Alicia Barrett of Great Britain’s time of 13.34 secs.
22. Ese’s turn up
Ese brume progressed to the final of Women’s Long Jump event. She leaped a mark of 6.67m in the qualification rounds and finished top 12.23. Two for the money
Nigeria’s duo of Margaret Bamgbose and Patience Okon-George qualified for the semis of the women’s 400m
24. Blessings and glory!
Blessing Okagbare ran a time of 22.71s to automatically qualify for the 200m semi-finals.
25. A win is a win is a win
Who would have thought that Nigeria’s Dream Team would win its first game? The team was stranded in Atlanta for close to 24 hours. They only managed to arrive in Manaus 6 hours before the game and had no training.
Because, we Nigerians serve a God of last minute miracles!